28 Sep 2021

Coming to grips with facial recognition scans part of home isolation experience

8:10 pm on 28 September 2021

Using a location checking app and doing a facial recognition scan were part of a South Australian's daily duties during a home isolation trial.

A man is seen using an iPhone on November 2, 2017. Concerns have been raised about Apple's new iPhone X and it's front facing camera with face recognition.

Gary Lowe says he learnt the app would take the facial recognition scan without a problem after he tidied himself up after his workouts. (file pic) Photo: AFP

The government is expected to release more details of its pilot home isolation scheme for businesses tomorrow with a long list of companies keen to get onboard.

Meanwhile, across the ditch South Australia has already been trialling a similar scheme for interstate arrivals and is now expanding it to include defence force workers coming home from overseas.

Returnees spend their 14 days isolating at a private home rather than a government run hotel; they're tested for Covid-19 several times and every day are subject to multiple random checks to make they are where they are supposed to be.

Gary Lowe, who was one of the first home isolation guinea pigs, says there is still a lot of trust involved.

"Between the hours of say 7am to 9pm, I'd probably get three or four pings via the app to actually respond within 15 minutes and they were quite random. Sometimes, they'd only be an hour apart, other times they were they were three or four hours apart.

"Basically it comes up on your phone just like a social media message notification and (you) basically open the app and there was a series of of selectors in the app and one of them is respond to self checking request and you've got 15 minutes to do that."

He says home isolation trialists are required to activate geo-location services on their phone while personal phone numbers and devices are tagged for identification purposes.

Alongside location-tracking there is also a facial recognition scan which Low says was easy to use.

"You're just given I guess a picture frame analogy to locate your face within and if you're holding it too far away it'll ask you to bring it closer or if you're too close or if your face doesn't fit in the frame, then when it's placed correctly, it starts to scan up and down... when the scan is successful it just basically says success."

Completing a facial recognition scan is the only way those isolating can respond to the check-in notifications from the app.

"The facial recognition is the only way to respond, you can't send a verbal text... there's no other way to respond; it has to be the facial recognition."

As part of the South Australia health requirements Lowe had to take himself to get tested on day one, day five and day 13 of his home isolation period.

"You are allowed to take yourself from where you're isolating, you must be able to drive yourself or get yourself to one of the drive through testing stations.

"I'm lucky that there's one quite close to where I'm living, about 700 metres away that's open 24 hours so I I was able to go there at my own convenience. I didn't have to make an appointment just drive through and get tested."

Yet another component of the home isolation monitoring app is a symptom checking requirement which Lowe says is as simple as providing an appropriate response for how you're feeling.

Outside of the testing regime, he wasn't allowed to leave the property, even for exercise.

"Basically just to take my rubbish out to the bin. I had to wear after wear a face mask at all times if I was outside the front door, so, literally in my little 40 square metre one bedder that I've got I'm in here for two weeks except for taking the rubbish out to the bin, which was quite a trip."

Lowe says he didn't face any penalties for failing to comply with the rules during his isolation but admits he had a few mishaps with the facial recognition scan system.

"I had one in facial recognition where the image didn't go through and I missed the 15 minute check-in and I just had a follow up phone call just asking, you know, was there a reason why I missed that check-in window.

"I just had to explain that the facial recognition didn't work on that one time and obviously being part of a trial I guess the followups are a little different to if it was for general use they'd have a different follow-up."

He explains another time the app couldn't recognise his face because he'd got such a sweat on during an indoor training routine on his cycling trainer.

Lowe says he learnt the app would take the scan without a problem after he tidied himself up after his workouts.

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